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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

MUSINGS OF A MEANDERING MIND #39 (article first published : 2007-11-9)

Due to lack of advance publicity for upcoming TV attractions one can very easily miss something worth catching – and this has proved to be the case with e-tv at eight o’clock on a Wednesday night with a half-hour feature voiced (and co-produced) by Nicky Greenwall under the title of Behind the Name. Some South Africans featured thus far being Josie Borain, Colin Moss, Minki van der Westhuizen and Pieter Dirk Uys.

In the case of the latter, we’ve all come to know and appreciate this amazingly talented satirist’s alter ego, the infamous Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout, but I’d not previously known that Pieter’s mother (a Jewish refugee) had taken her own life by heading off of Chapman’s Peak, and that it was his correspondence with his idol, actress Sophia Loren, (who became a great friend) that helped him through this rough patch in his life. Catch this weekly feature on Wednesdays if you can, if it’s still running by the time you read this. And, although the SA edition of Survivor might vie for your attention, airing as it does between 20h00 and 21h00, remember THAT programme (on M-Net) does have a repeat slot over the weekend!

Another pleasant surprise is a brand new season of 7th Heaven presently running on SABC2, though the time slot of 12h30 on Sundays (rather than 19h30 on Tuesday evenings) I would opine is highly unsuitable, since the youthful audience who’d most gain from watching are more likely to be out and about than lolling indoors! I’ve followed this highly-rated programme since its inception, and it’s been a joy to follow the characters growing from babyhood to teenagers and into early adulthood, providing older people with some valuable lessons on good parenting along the way! In fact, SO impressed am I with this show about a pastor, his wife, and seven children (not to mention offspring, in-laws, friends, neighbours, et al) that I’ve just fired off an e-mail to SABC2 to ask if they know whether there might be a boxed set of the entire series available, as it would make for an excellent wedding gift for any young couple embarking on the adventure of hopefully planning a new family!

Still on the topic of TV viewing, this past Sunday night I watched Beyoncé shake her booty on SABC3, and I’ve gotta give the girl this much: she has – apart from her obvious singing ability - a body to die for, a beautiful face, and judging from various guest appearances on shows such as Oprah remains humble to boot!

And ‘twas nice to see local musos Harris Tweed getting the opportunity to strut their stuff in this 22h00 slot recently. I’d heard their female vocalist in a radio interview a while back (very articulate for one so young) and she sure can tickle those ivories as she showcases not only her very fine voice but song-writing abilities too!

On now to a few more words about Idols (M-Net 17h30 to 19h00 Sunday evenings with Results/Eliminations 19h00 Mondays). At the time of writing, we’re down to the Final Eight – and I have to say I’m not hugely impressed by any of the male contenders, and although four of the females appeared promising in previous weeks, this evening that was not the case. If I had to select a leader at this point, it would have to be Tender, although she’s not really impressed me all that much before now: it’s just that the other three girls I’ve had my eye on (Carla, Andrietta and the extremely young Jody) just did not come up to scratch this a few Sundays ago. However, the temper tantrum thrown by female judge, Mara Louw, about the quality of the sound being very poor might provide an explanation for the weak standard of performances overall. What any of the judges saw (heard?) in Munro’s performance I just could not fathom: to me it was just noise – and tunless noise to boot! Daniel, I feel, does show a little promise – and certainly has the looks, style and personality to become an idol. But if we’re going to talk charisma, petite Carla wins hands down, in my humble opinion, with that engaging pixie smile and sparkling personality. But I’ve just not managed to work up very much enthusiasm this year and, in fact, from previous seasons it’s only been Brandon October and Melanie Lowe who really stand out in my memory as contestants who’ve managed to achieve consistent successes, remaining in the public eye/ear by way of live appearances and on radio music charts. (I’ve never been the greatest Heinz Winckler fan!)

Going back to the very first Idols contest (which took place in Britain) and popular winner, Will Young (who later came out of the closet so as not to disappoint any hopeful females among his legions of fans), it was wonderful to catch him in a cameo role along with the marvellous Dame Judi Dench in Miss Henderson Presents on M-Net this week, doing justice to his first acting role in a film. I thought the fist album released following his win was pretty fine, but the follow-up one a huge disappointment!

By the by, anyone who’s really into reality shows really must read Ben Elton, a British stand-up comic, author and also writer/producer of the Queen show We Will Rock You as well as Popcorn. Do get hold of Chart Throb (a send up of programmes like Idols) and Dead Famous (sending up Big Brother. A dozen chuckles per page! And an insight into what wickedness is perpetrated in the editing suite!)

Now for a mention about those Side Track promo pieces we sometimes catch in between television programmes – for it’s been through hearing these that I’ve made the occasional worthwhile new find, the latest in the form of one Natasha Marsh and her album Amour. More of that one anon.

I also sat up and took note of the soundtrack throughout a wonderful little film called Love’s Brother screened on SABC3 recently. After much pressing of the pause button, I managed to discern the composer as Sartori and the two male singers as Marcelo Alvarez and Salvatore Licitra, and then tracked down their album called Duetto. If you’re a light classics fan, you may well enjoy this one, beginning with the soundtrack piece I mentioned, Oltre la Tempesta, and ending with their version of E Lucevan Le Stelle (from Tosca). My particular favourite was their Maria which I have in my collection by Italian soprano, Filippa Giordano, as Maria by the Sea, a fabulous piece of music!

I also keep a keen ear tuned for background music in restaurants and thus recently discovered Carla Bruni. Four years after the success of her French album Quelqu’un m’a dit, she’s done equally well with this album, entirely in English. Enchanted by the romantic torments of poets of yore (such as William Yeats, Emily Dickinson & others) she’s borrowed from their works and, with incredible sensitivity, has put them to music. Accompanied by an acoustic guitar, and occasionally by a cello and/or harmonica, her sensual, somewhat carnal voice delivers these pieces with a natural soft elegance, and musical maestro Louis Bertignac’s production makes this second effort just as intimate and consummate as her previous CD. To boot, No Promises is beautifully and imaginatively packaged, and is sure to capture the heart and soul of anyone of the female persuasion, should you be in search of a gift of a musical nature! (And, FYI, should you not have heard of her, she was once a supermodel, and before marrying she dated the likes of Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton!)

Till next time – happy listening! - Bev Pulé




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